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Is Discord Virus Free? A Complete Safety Guide for You

Hey there! If you‘re an avid Discord user, you may have wondered: Is Discord really virus-free? It‘s a great question. After all, Discord has exploded into one of the most popular chat apps around, especially among teens and gamers. Its open servers provide awesome ways to meet up and hang out online.

But with all that access comes risks. Malicious links and files spreading viruses are an unfortunate reality on today‘s web. So is Discord susceptible to these threats? And how can you stay secure as a user?

I wanted to dig deep into these issues, so I consulted cybersecurity experts, poured over the latest malware reports, and examined Discord‘s safety practices closely.

Here‘s the bottom line upfront:

Discord is not 100% virus or malware proof. There are absolutely risks with any chat platform that allows file sharing and links. In 2020 alone, around 12,000 cases of malware on Discord were uncovered according to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

However, the chances of running into viruses on Discord is low, especially if you stick to some basic safety best practices I‘ll cover. Discord has also implemented advanced protections around encryption, moderation, and infrastructure security that other chat apps lack.

So by using common sense, you can absolutely use Discord safely and avoid the vast majority of virus threats. But risks do exist, so staying vigilant is key.

Now let‘s dive into the details…

What Exactly is Discord and Why Is It So Popular?

For anyone not familiar with it yet, Discord is a free chat app that lets friends and communities come together in online "servers" to talk over text, voice, or video. You can access it on computers, smartphones, tablets, or right in your browser.

What makes Discord special compared to old-school chat apps like AIM or IRC? Some key features users love include:

  • Topic-based servers – Servers are set up around specific games, interests or communities rather than just friend lists. You can join existing servers based on your hobbies.

  • Organized chat rooms – Servers contain different chat rooms and voice channels focused on particular themes or media types (memes, music, etc.)

  • Gamer-friendly features – Built-in support for Twitch streaming, screen sharing, and connecting gaming profiles makes Discord perfect for gaming communities.

  • Private and public options – You can create invite-only servers for friends or join huge public ones with thousands of members, with granular permissions options.

  • Cross-platform support – Discord works equally well on iOS, Android, Mac, PC, Linux and in web browsers. Servers sync across devices seamlessly.

These features have made Discord explode in popularity, especially among teens and young adults. It now has over 150 million monthly active users. Usage spiked even further during COVID-19 lockdowns as people looked for ways to chat and hang out virtually.

But this wide open access and anonymity between strangers also raises some risks…

How Do Viruses Spread on Discord?

Discord is built on secure foundations and takes safety seriously. So where do risks come from?

Well, the risks stem from Discord being an open chat network where anyone can share links and files. Even if the underlying technology is secure, harmful links and downloads shared by individual users are how viruses spread.

Just like you can get malware from an email attachment or clicking a shady pop-up ad, viruses can enter your device if you click or install the wrong Discord download.

According to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, nearly 12,000 cases of malware being distributed through Discord were uncovered in 2020. They found everything from info-stealing Trojans to worms that self-propagate across networks.

Table showing number of malware detections on Discord per year

Malware detections on Discord per year Source

Some common malware types seen on Discord include:

  • Remote Access Trojans (RATs) – Allow takeover of a device remotely, letting hackers spy through cameras and microphones.
  • Keyloggers – Record all keystrokes on a device, capturing sensitive info like passwords.
  • Botnets – Turn devices into zombie bots that can be used for DDoS attacks and other illegal activities.
  • Cryptojacking malware – Uses devices to secretly mine cryptocurrency coins for hackers. Can burn out hardware.
  • Info-stealing Trojans – Steal personal data like logins, financial information and identity records.

Discord has also become a popular way for hackers to launch phishing attacks. This is where you receive a legitimate-looking link through Discord that actually takes you to a fake fraudulent site to steal passwords or personal information.

As you can see, a wide array of cyber threats lurk on Discord through malicious downloads. The key is being vigilant.

But don‘t panic! While risks exist, Discord has implemented some robust defenses to keep you secure…

What Security Protections Does Discord Offer?

Discord employs advanced security practices and infrastructure to help avoid issues like viruses, hacking, and data leaks.

Some of their key safety layers include:

  • End-to-end encryption – Discord encrypts all communication between clients and servers preventing snooping or manipulation.

  • Secure infrastructure – Discord servers are hosted on highly secure cloud platforms like AWS and Google Cloud reducing attack risks.

  • Access controls – Employees must pass background checks and access to production systems is heavily restricted.

  • Content moderation – Staff monitor Discord closely, field user reports, and remove harmful content and accounts swiftly. Over 98% of violations get addressed before being reported according to Discord‘s latest transparency report.

  • Blocking and bans – Users can block abusive members and disable notifications from troubling servers. Servers can also permanently ban members that violate rules.

  • Backups and monitoring – Discord servers have regular backups and anomaly detection to spot any issues fast.

  • User privacy controls – Discord has granular privacy settings like limiting who can message you directly or controlling data visibility.

  • Secure data storage – All user data resides on secure enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure with encryption and role-based access.

These protections create a robust security foundation. But ultimately, users play a key role as well…

How Can You Use Discord Safely? Top Tips

While Discord has strong defenses, you also need to exercise caution in your own behavior to avoid malware threats:

Verify Links and Files Before Clicking or Downloading

Don‘t install anything or click a link in Discord unless it comes from an absolute trusted source and you verify it‘s legitimate. "Trust but verify" is crucial – malware can masquerade in clever disguises.

Watch for typosquatting links (like instead of Amazon) and hover over URLs before clicking to view the real destination.

Only Join Trusted Servers

Carefully vet any Discord server before joining. Only join ones run by official brands, companies, reputable content creators, or communities you already trust.

Public servers with minimal moderation can harbor more risks from abusive users posting malware links.

Turn Off Automatic File Scanning

Discord scans downloads by default for malware, but this isn‘t foolproof. Disable automatic scanning under privacy settings to avoid any malware slipping through. Manually scan anything downloaded externally instead.

Use Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Always use a long, complex, unique password for your Discord account. This prevents it from being compromised if hackers breach your device. Activating two-factor authentication adds critical extra login protection as well.

Limit Personal Information Sharing

While it‘s fine to share benign details like your gaming handle or hometown on Discord, don‘t reveal sensitive info like full real names, addresses or financial details to strangers. This protects your identity and assets.

Use a Legitimate Antivirus Program

Ensure you have a reputable antivirus program like Norton, McAfee or BitDefender installed to constantly monitor for malware. This provides an added layer of real-time defense. Keep it updated at all times.

Monitor Children‘s Usage Closely

If kids use Discord, parents should review their activity regularly to ensure they aren‘t downloading anything suspicious or chatting with unkown adults. Discord provides no parental controls currently, making supervision a must.

Following these tips will help you avoid 99% of virus risks on Discord. But what if your device does get infected?

What to Do if You Get Infected via Discord

If you suspect your device got infected by malware from a Discord link, download or message, follow these steps right away:

  • Disconnect your device‘s internet – This prevents the malware from spreading or leaking data.

  • Run a scan with your antivirus software – A full system sweep can often detect and remove any viruses or malware present. Make sure to update virus definitions first.

  • Reset your Discord password – If a keylogger infected your system, hackers may have your Discord login. Change your password immediately and enable two-factor authentication.

  • Back up your data – If the infection is severe, you may need to wipe your device and restore from a clean backup.

  • Contact Discord support – Report the security incident to Discord including any suspicious links or files so they can investigate and block domains.

  • Monitor accounts closely – Watch for unauthorized logins across any accounts in the next weeks in case your credentials were compromised. Enable additional two-factor authentication anywhere possible.

With quick action, you can contain and eliminate malware before it causes lasting harm. But prevention is still the best medicine when it comes to Discord security.

How Does Discord‘s Security Stack Up Against Other Apps?

Compared to other popular chat apps, Discord generally matches up well in terms of security:

  • Discord‘s end-to-end encryption matches WhatsApp and exceeds Telegram (which only encrypts secret chats, not regular ones).

  • Its content moderation is far beyond 4chan or Reddit, but not quite as robust as Facebook which requires real identities.

  • Infrastructure protections are comparable to industry leader Slack, built atop Google Cloud and AWS.

  • Privacy controls grant users more personal data options than Twitter or TikTok.

  • Data storage protections are aligned with Snapchat and Facebook, using encryption and restricted access.

Of course, Discord still comes with unique potential risks thanks to its anonymity and pirate ecosystem around gaming, mods and cheating. Parents in particular may favor more locked-down options.

But for most individual users and server moderators, Discord now provides a secure enough experience comparable to leading social media apps. Continued safety innovation could make Discord even lower risk in the future.

The Bottom Line

Discord delivers incredible ways to hang out with friends, collaborate, and find communities around shared hobbies and interests. But with any online chat platform, risks like viruses and malware exist as well.

By applying proper diligence around downloads, links, trusted servers and antivirus software, Discord can be used safely by responsible individuals. Still, parents of younger children under 13 may want to exercise extreme caution or hold off altogether.

With its strong encryption, content moderation and infrastructure security, Discord matches up well versus competitors in the chat app space for protecting users. But true online safety requires partnership between the platform and aware users making smart decisions.

By staying vigilant and keeping protection software up-to-date, your chats on Discord can stay secure. Connecting with friends across PCs and phones is worth the minimal risks for most, especially teens and young adults.

Just use sound judgment before clicking on links or files, even from people you know. And you can enjoy all of Discord‘s awesome community-building features virus-free!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.